Jonathan under fire over his "Nigeria will crash" comment

President Goodluck Jonathan
caption: Some of President Goodluck Jonathan's aides are paid higher than the police Inspector General

President Goodluck Jonathan has come under heavy attack from opposition parties in the country over his reported claim that Nigeria would crash if it continued to subsidise the pump price of petroleum products.

Mr. Jonathan was quoted to have said at a meeting he had with members of the National Assembly last week that the Nigerian economy faced imminent collapse except it stops subsidising the prices of petroleum products.

But reacting to the comment earlier today, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties, a coalition of opposition political parties in the country lashed out at Mr. Jonathan, describing his claim as “unpresidential and unpatriotic”.

The coalition’s spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, said in a statement that Mr. Jonathan, now highly-placed, had forgotten his humble beginning and was now behaving like a bourgeois who does not care about the plight of the country’s poor.  

Besides being  “unpresidential and unpatriotic” the CNPP also feel the comment “calls into question the motive of President Jonathan in fiercely rejecting the public opinion against the Fuel Taxation, which is the meaning of removal of the so called petroleum products subsidy”.

The coalition said rather than Nigeria crashing, it was Mr. Jonathan who run the risk of blowing the goodwill of the Nigerian people who voted him to power. 

Mr. Okechukwu’s statement reads in part, “CNPP is at a loss how Mr President who came from a humble background, went to school on barefoot without sandals and came to power by good luck; will align himself with those in favour of Fuel Taxation, hence  building a poor country of few rich people. He should read the lips of his countrymen, the legislators, trade unions and the clergy.

“We are of the candid view that the national consensus subsisting is that instead of wasting N1.2trillion per annum in the last years in subsidizing petroleum products importation; the money could have been used to build new refineries, employ Nigerians and utilize the crude oil derivatives to power our textile industries.

“Our survey shows that a 250, 000 barrels per day capacity refinery costs about $5billion to install and this can be completed in less than 24 months. All we need is to erect two of such refineries, hand it over to credible managers and rehabilitate the four refineries and stop enriching and awarding national honours to the cartel of petroleum product importers.

“President Jonathan and his co-travelers are averse to this option; for them we all thieves, imbeciles and cannot manage the refineries – government has no business in business. They are waiting for private investors, some of whom got their licenses over a decade ago.

“The paradox is, if government has no business in business and we are all thieves, imbeciles and cannot manage the refineries, is it Mr President and his carpet-baggers who can manage prudently the Fuel Tax to provide safety net and infrastructure?

“In sum, Nigeria will not crash if the subsidy remains; what will crash is the goodwill of Mr President as he aligns with those who subvert Section 16{2c} of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria {as amended} which states, ‘The State shall direct its policy towards ensuring – that the economic system is not operated in such a manner as to permit the concentration of wealth or the means of production and exchange in the hands of few individuals or a group.”